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A Wrinkle in the Skin

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  564 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A Wrinkle in the Skin (aka The Ragged Edge) is a 1965 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel written by the British author Samuel Youd under the pen name of John Christopher.

A massive series of earthquakes on a worldwide scale reduce cities to rubble, plunging survivors into barbarism. Most of western Europe is dramatically uplifted, transforming the English Channel into a
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 20th 2000 by Cosmos Books (PA) (first published January 1st 1965)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  564 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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John Wiltshire
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm surprised I haven't come across this book before. Not only is is a superb little post-apocalyptic novel, it's exceptionally well written and interesting. Set and written in the 1960s, it's also a fascinating slice of a life gone by--attitudes that are surprising, even to those of us who remember living this era. I've been sharing this story with my teenage creative writing class and causing quite a stir. Lots of furious teenage girls claiming that Katniss Everdeen is a more realistic represe ...more
Raegan Butcher
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
John Christopher writes exciting sci fi novels about catastrophic shifts in the world order. He has tackled everything from mass starvation (The Death Of Grass) to epic changes in the earth's weather (The Long Winter) to alien invasions(The Tripod trilogy) to giant earthquakes, which is the central catastrophe of this book.

After an enormous series of cataclysmic earthquakes wipes out modern civilization, a group of survivors struggle to stay alive in the ruins of the British Isles.
This is one of
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although most of us probably deem earthquakes to be relatively infrequent phenomena, the truth is that, as of this writing in late November, almost 150 such seismic events, ranging from relatively minor to completely devastating, have transpired somewhere in the world in 2016 alone. That's an average of one earthquake every two or three days! But although these events are not only, uh, earth-shattering for those in the areas directly affected, few would deem them a possible concern for long-term ...more
Althea Ann
As a kid, I very much enjoyed John Christopher's books: the Tripods Trilogy ("The White Mountains", "The City of Gold and Lead", and "The Pool of Fire") as well as the related book "When The Tripods Came"; and also his Sword of the Spirits Trilogy - "The Prince is Waiting", "Beyond the Burning Lands" and "The Sword of the Spirits".
The first trilogy is a sort of "War of the Worlds" scenario where human survivalists struggle against the alien Tripods that have taken over Earth. The second trilogy
Steve Dewey
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is another enjoyable slab of post-apocalyptic cosy catastrophe from John Christopher.

Earlier in the year, I read Christopher's The Death of Grass. That was lean, taut, and gripping, with a particular grey bleakness. This book follows a similar pattern -- ordinary people surviving a catastrophe -- but here the catastrophe has a more unlikely cause: worldwide earthquakes that cause severe damage and disruption. Of course, the book was written in the early 1960s, when much less was known abou
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
Another powerfully told apocalyptic adventure story told by John Christopher, this time it's a rapid and severe bout of geological activity that overnight wipes out most of humanity (as far as we know) and completely destroys every standing structure.

The narrative follows the experience of our protagonist Matthew who's living on the island of Guernsey. He manages to survive the night of violent earthquakes by being out in the garden investigating a strange noise and being protected by the stron
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book dates back to the 60s and some of the language and nuances do show themselves up but considering this books limitations it just goes to show how compelling the storyline is and the imagery used if it can stand the test of time. This book was labelled part of the "cosy catastrophe" the story is intended to be down beat and show the darker sides of human nature. Never intended to be used as a vehicle to horrify its readers the book still has some strong images such as the walk across the ...more
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Another apocalypse science fiction book. I read two books of this genre in January 2009 (Happy New Year). The other one was "Alas, Babylon." I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books. This book made me want to be a better walker.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
this could've been good, if the main character didn't have his head shoved so far up his ass. nothing can compare to The Stand, for my money.
Paul Holland
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Post-apocalypse a-go-go with a bone-white sparsity that seems to be this author’s gift to give. I don’t know why John Christopher is so obsessed with what happens when it all goes Pete Tong but he’s bloody good at describing it and how people will react. Those reactions are as mixed as a sack full of hundreds and thousands which also includes five badgers and an angry Brian May. And it features Guernsey which is always welcome, even if it’s a Guernsey thrown up into the air, left high and dry, f ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another of Samuel Youd's (a.k.a John Crhistopher) post-apocalypitc survival tales.

A series of massive catastrophic earthquakes (along with associated mega-tsunamis) strike around the world, leading to massive flooding
of land areas and the apparent destruction of civilization around the world. A British man goes on a desperate journey in search of his daughter across Islands near the UK and the bared dried sea-bed itself. On the way, he encounters various pockets of survivors, many of who
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an uncompromising read - the darkest Christopher I have read. Main issue was I thought the main characters gave up on society a bit quick, and assumed everyone else was without redemption. Maybe this was the correct decision based on what happens later.
Apr 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Had to read this for a book group. A mediocre novel with a truly rubbish ending.
Aline Baldwinalinebaldwin
One of my all time favorites. No monsters - except believable humans run amok and a hopeful ending. I wish there were a sequal.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
rambling and boring for a post apocalyptic book. didn't care about the main character or the boy. there were some interesting scenes, but overall, meh.
Ember Stone-pierce
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Post -Apocalyptic thriller, as real and relevant today as when it as written in 1965.
Jack Deighton
John Christopher is perhaps best remembered for his Tripods series of books for young adults but also contributed to the British sub-genre of “cosy catatstrophe” most mined by the other John (Wyndham.) A Wrinkle in the Skin falls firmly into the catastrophe category as a series of giant earthquakes befalls the world. (From a modern perspective Christopher’s description of the cause of earthquakes was obviously written before the theory of plate tectonics was fully established.)

Matthew Cotter is
Ginny Machiela
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I thought the premise--civilization after crazy earthquakes--was promising. I wasn't sure what I would get, given that it was written back in the 60s; sometimes you have to slog through a lot of racism and sexism of the time. But those aspects were remarkably mild, and overall I thought this book was a total gem! (view spoiler) ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
I wish I hadn't read this. I really liked John Christopher's novels in the past, but the last two have been terrible, so I guess I am done now. The offensive thing in this book (and yes, I know it was written a long time ago, but that doesn't make it palatable for today) was the way he depicted and discussed women ad sexuality and rape. His apocalyptic world immediately turned into men ravaging women everywhere (and yes, I am sure there is some degree of that in such a scenario BUT MAYBE CONDEMN ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Although written in the 60’s the story is post apocalypse so it didn’t seem dated. As I was reading I kept wondering if Cormac McCarthy read this way back when and it gave him the idea for The Road. A man and a boy travel after a world-wide disaster takes down civilization. I do like John Christopher’s stories but I find that they do lag a bit in parts and found the ending of A Winkle in the Skin a bit obvious. All-in-all a fast and decent read for the genre.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf
One of those English disaster novels that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. J.G. Ballard wrote a fair number of these as well.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book. I was particularly impressed by how he describes the plight of women in the new world.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great disaster fiction. Hard to put down.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always seem to find a little comfort in apocalyptic fiction. Granted, it's not the most original genre, but in almost every case I'm reminded of the huge depths of compassion that the human heart is capable of. This type of novel is a great platform to present that tenderness. It only reinforces my conviction that love and concern for other people is truly the only good reason for being alive, and not for personal gain or success. In my view, personal gain and success is something which is int ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I am discovering that the 1950s and 60s has a wealth of post-apocalyptic science fiction of high quality. John Christopher, like his contemporary, John Wyndham, has an easygoing style that takes you from the perspective of an ordinary life and moves you into a world that gets progressively more broken and barbaric as you go along.

In Ragged Edge, Matthew Cotter, living on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, finds himself one of the few survivors of a devastating earthquake. The disaster is not just
Seth Lynch
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
British Sci-Fi survivor novel – first published 1965. It’s a format I enjoy and John Christopher is good at it – HG Wells pretty much invented this sub-genre and Christopher turned it into the format we know now. With HG Wells it is about forming a better world after the destruction of the old. With Christopher it is about lowest common denominators, gangs getting together being told what to do by the most brutal of leaders. Intelligence is no match for force – in the short term at least. Longer ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff
In the 1960s a wave of earthquakes brings destruction around the globe. Isolated off the British coast Matthew Cotter thinks that they will be okay, Britain is far from any earthquake zone, pity the poor devils on a fault, but that’s all happening far away. But of course you can’t have a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story without the apocalypse can you?

One night while Matthew is outside, waiting for a dog that has been attacking his chickens the quake hits. Outside, protected by a bamboo thicket Matt
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: post-apoc lovers
Shelves: post-apoc
An interesting non-nuclear post-apocalyptic novel. The novel is very linear (no flashbacks or postmodern elements), given that it was published in 1965. This didn't really detract from the novel, as the pace was quick and there wasn't too much description. The novel also had a strong female character at once point, which was nice to see in a novel from the 60s, and the novel provided instances of both awful people and kind ones which was also realistic. Most of the staples of post-apocalyptic wa ...more
Joe Stamber
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: paper, read-2012
Some time ago I read another of JC's novels, The Death of Grass, which I enjoyed, so I thought I'd give this one a try. Like The Death of Grass, it's a sort of post apocalyptic road trip. However, instead of all the crops dying, the disaster is caused by massive worldwide earthquakes.

At over 40 years old, A Wrinkle in the Skin is obviously a little dated, but JC doesn't shy away from the nastier side of things - although they are not described as graphically as they might be today. The reader ta
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Sam Youd was born in Huyton, Lancashire in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm.

As a boy, he was devoted to the newly emergent genre of science-fiction: ‘In the early thirties,’ he later wrote, ‘we knew just enough about the solar system for its possibilities to be a magnet to the imagination.’

Over the following decades, his imagination flowed from science-fiction into general novels, cric